Pong, Centipede, and Asteroids are going to need a new owner since their creator, Atari, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, the iconic videogame company is not closing its doors for good, and is selling off its catalog of over 200 game franchises in addition to its name and logo. The filing comes from the desire of the US arm of the company, (Atari Inc.) to break away from its French parent company (Atari SA) in order to distance itself and avoid some of its parent company’s debt.
Atari was founded in 1972, and is best known for its pioneering console games. The company began struggling in 1983 when the overall revenue from videogames dipped. Since then, Atari and its intellectual property has been bought and sold many times, most recently in 2000 by Infogrames Entertainment, now known as Atari SA. Atari SA has not been profitable since 1999, and this continued loss has resulted in two separate bankruptcy filings in France and the United States.
Atari Inc. hopes to salvage the Atari brand by filing for Chapter 11 protection and securing new sources of funding separate from the parent company. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the Atari brand and all its intellectual property to remain intact rather than being sold off as individual assets. In a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, the company goes into a court-managed restructuring process. During this process, creditors are given certain controls over the company until a new business model arises and the debt is paid off. This is favorable to Atari because its brand massively increases Atari games’ marketability. The company’s best hope to regain its prominence lies in restructuring and reprioritizing.
Once a pioneer of the console and arcade market, Atari has now moved its vast catalog into the arena of mobile game and apps. Moving into the mobile game universe does seem to be the way to make money these days; the iTunes platform for games alone currently offers 131,727 active games, making mobile gaming the fastest growing portion of the industry.
The move to mobile games is smart not only because of the growing market share, but also because it allows Atari Inc. to reintroduce the games that made the company successful in the early days. There are already mobile versions of Asteroids and other foundational games. Atari’s new direction is bringing these 1980s classics back to life for one generation and introducing them to a new generation of Gamer.
Atari hopes that by continuing normal operations through the bankruptcy proceeding, and under new ownership they will be able to return to their former glory as a staple in the games industry.